Miter Saw vs. Radial Arm Saw

While scrounging on Craig's List, I found a couple old Dewalt Radial Arm saws. One is pretty pricey at $325 but one is $85 and the other is only $70. Would it be worth it to purchase one of these or would I be better off with a good miter saw? I already have a Jet table saw, so my initial thoughts are that one of these would be redundant but the prices keep bringing me back. From what I understand, the Dewalt is one of the few radial arm saws that were really very good at keeping true. Or am I wrong?
I don't know how much space would be eaten up by one of these but I don't think it would be ultra-terrible, is it? I "share" my garage with my car but even if I kept it outside all the time, I would need to put this on wheels because there is simply no room. Also, I do not know if things get all out of whack if I would move this thing all the time.
Would it be worth it to go after one of these things or am I just thinking stupidly?
DeWalt Radial Arm Saw Model 7740 - $325 http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/1620826647.html Dewalt Radial Arm Saw - $85 http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/1665111701.html RADIAL ARM SAW 10" DEWALT - $70 http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/1664498660.html
Thanks.
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I went through a similar thought process several years ago when trying to decide what size of miter saw to buy for a basement finish job. At the time I opted for a 12" vs 10" to gain a little more size capacity. I also decided then that I could add a RAS later when I had more room. I have the room now, and I'm starting to think radial arm saw again.
Comparing the two is a little like apples and oranges. Even the sliding miters come up short on a lot of the capability of a RAS. Not only can you do miter work with a radial, you can raise and lower the arbor/motor to adjust depth of cut. When saw-cutting dado's it is easier to index the stock against the fence and visually see the blade cutting across the panel; rather than seeing it come out the other side face-down. A RAS will accept most of the blades, dado heads, shaping accessories, etc. that your table saw uses. Panel cutting, within reasonable sizes, can be easier with a radial arm saw.
I don't think the RAS will give you the precision you can achieve with a well-tuned table saw. Also, some folks will say that shaping, and to an extent, dado cutting on the RAS isn't as safe. I would probably agree with this but you just have to keep your head engaged as with all power equipment.
RonB
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BTW - Buying used is the way to go. There are burnt out woodworkers and widows all over the place who want to sell them; and often at a very good price. Also watch estate sales. My cousin bought one a few years ago on a metal stand with every imaginable attachment for $250. It was an older Craftsman that clearly had been used very little. Occasionally you see similar sets a lot cheaper.
RonB
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On 3/29/2010 2:11 PM, RonB wrote:

Not seeing the original (and can't find it on Google Groups even though it was posted from there) so putting in my 2 cents worth here.
First, check out <http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/dewaltrebuild.pdf
Note that the middle one of the three listed is one of the old industrial-strength dinosaurs--if that one doesn't have anything bad wrong with it it's the one to go for IMO. The other two have been consumerized to their detriment.
That said . . .
RAS and CMS don't really do the same job. Any cut that a CMS can do an RAS should be able to do but to get it precise there's more setup time. The CMS though is a one trick pony. What it does it does really well, but that's all it does.
The amount of space it takes up depends on what you're doing. If you're ripping or working with large stock you'll need clearance on each side--if you're working with small pieces only then you don't need a space any bigger than the saw.
There's at least 90 percent overlap between the RAS and the table saw--there are situations where one does a job easily that it almost impossible on the other but both will do most cuts. To a significant extent they're complementary--ripping on an RAS is no fun at all, but it doesn't need any kind of fixture for accurate crosscutting.
Working with small stock (defined as anything less than the cross-cut capacity of the saw) I find the RAS much more convenient and safer than the table saw simply because I can clamp the piece down and not have to have my hands on it while cutting.
The page I linked above tells what to look for and how to check them out.
Books you'll be wanting:
<https://www.dovetalebooks.com/sawdust/proddetail.php?prod=sawdust01 is specific to the deWalt--note that his advice on blades, while it doesn't exactly steer you wrong, is dated--he was writing before companies like Forrest were producing purpose-made blades for radial arm saws.
<http://joneakes.com/dvd and order the "stationary saws" which includes his book on tuning RAS--he covers deWalt, Craftsman, and Delta in excruciating detail. It's not a book on how to _use_ them, it's all about adjusting them. It used to be sold as a print book and occasionally you can find a used one but they don't go cheap--abebooks has a couple for 68 and 75 bucks respectively.
Another that has a surprising amount of useful information is <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>--of course it's Sears-centric but most of what it contains applies to any RAS.
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On 03/29/2010 11:45 AM, busbus wrote:

My dad built his into the bench along the shop wall so the table was the same height as the bench top. No extra space taken up that way.
Something to consider...for crosscuts on a RAS (or SCMS for that matter) you normally want to use negative hook blades so that they don't self-feed as much. This includes dado sets.
Chris
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On 3/29/2010 12:45 PM, busbus wrote:

That depends on the cutting you plan to do and on the space available. I routinely cut long, wide stock - and my RAS with stops set for the lengths I want is the perfect tool for my jobs. YMMV.

The older DeWalt models (especially the 12" and 14" models) were great - but I've heard a lot of negative comments about the more recent 10" models - and I have no first-hand experience. While driving through Cheyenne a few years back I heard a 14" DeWalt advertized on the radio for $150 and still regret not stopping to find a phone to buy it. :(

They /can/ grow to fill a lot of space - see what happened to mine at
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/Projects/RadialArmSaw /
I do move it occasionally, and it's withstood my occasional moving without problem.

It's a good tool to have if you actually /need/ it, but you'll have to decide that for yourself. :)
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Hey, I looked at your photo and saw my RAS with a larger table. I rarely use it, but it still is handy for the cuts that it can only do. Mine was bought in 1971 when I was trimming out the house that I had built (I am still living in it). It was branded TECO as it was purchased from a Canadian department store (since closed) called T. Eaton Co., therefore the brand name. I understand it was a OMA model that a US department store also sold under its own name.
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On 3/30/2010 3:57 PM, EXT wrote:

I bought mine about a year later than you did, as my first stationary tool for restoration work on my first house in Poughkeepsie, NY - and two years ago was given an earlier model (perhaps the same model as yours).
I bought mine from Montgomery Wards and it was branded "ToolKraft". The current table is a tad larger than the factory version and I use it almost as much as the table saw, which came along about two years later. I've been well-pleased with the saw, and have only needed to square it up after relocations.
The original MDF table held up fairly well until the floods of '93, then turned mouldy and warped like crazy - so when I set up shop in 2001 one of the first things I did was make the new (plywood) table.
It's a keeper. :)
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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I have a personal dislike for RASs because one bit me once but with that said, the RAS is more versitile and the Miter saw is more precise. Good cases for both. Since you already have a TS, then there is a little less reason to get a RAS over a Miter but the RAS could still be used for thing that the TS can't do and it probably cross cuts wider than even a slider.
Me personally (and this is just my opinion) I strictly use the cut-off saw for rough cuts and true compound miters. I square up all cuts on the TS of at all possible. I kind of work in production but accuracy mode so I can runn 100 cross cuts super fast and I always cut 1/2 long. Then trim square using a sled on the TS. So a RAS being sloppy wouldn't really bother me too much for cutof but I never really liked them for doing compounds, so I rather have a miter for that.
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I vote: Get the $85 one. If it's a bad deal, you're not out too much money and you will likely learn what attributes to look for in a RAS. Get some wheels for it and roll it in and out for a while. You may think of something to better acommodate space, sooner than later. If it turns out to be a good deal, yet becomes inconvenient, you will likely be able to sell it in a short time. A RAS is good to have for several reasons, even if it's tasks are limited. That's a good price for that saw, in my opinion.
Hope it's not gone by the time you respond to the add.
Sonny
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On 03/29/2010 12:45 PM, busbus wrote:

Can't speak for the Dewalt, but I picked up a used 10" Craftsman about a year ago and I've been using it ever since. It stays dead accurate because I use it for one thing and one thing only: cross cuts. Yes, I will still use the crosscut sled on the table saw for some things, but there is no difference in accuracy and for many things cutting on the RAS is a piece of cake whereas the same cut on the table saw is just plain awkward.

Only you can decide. I did have a bit of trouble finding "just the right spot" for mine, but once I did it's never moved and so far it hasn't been in the way.

I chucked the crappy old wheels that came with the saw and put the whole business on a Delta mobile base (the model where you install your own wooden rails).

I've heard enough stories about them getting out of whack that I just made the decision to use it only for cross-cuts and never move it. Every miter I've ever had to cut since getting the RAS has been on the table saw, and my old Delta compound miter saw (which I *hate*) has never left its spot under the table.

Sounds worth investigating to me. If you don't like it I'm sure you can always turn it back around on craigslist. :-)
One other thing to keep in mind: Radial arm saws can make one HELL of a mess! I spent a fair amount of time installing some home-brewed dust collection on mine (which, once again, I can get away with because I never move it from its cross-cut position) and it catches 99% of the sawdust these things typically spew all over the damn shop. You might find yourself wanting to do the same thing after the first few cuts. :-)
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Consider the room that would be taken up by a RAS vs. a "movable" miter saw. If you have room, including to the sides, then a RAS would be great. Otherwise, for occasional crosscut or miters, the miter saw on even the shop floor would be handy. Consider a compound SLIDE miter saw. Mine can cut to the middle of a 24" shelf. That's not as good as the 17" cut of the Sears RAS I had, but covers about 95% of what I now do here at the house.
After downsizing, I have virtually no room for large tools like a cabinet saw, RAS or planer. In my case, I got a Ryobi contractor saw and mounted it onto a home built cart with casters. Low and on one side of the cart is a Makita SLIDE/Compound miter saw and below the Ryobi contractor saw is a 13" portable planer. By using different sides of the cart, I can use all three without having to move or change something. I just roll the cart out into the driveway from its stored location and have 360 degree access.
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Nonny
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My experience is almost the same except my RAS was bought new close to thirty years ago. I didn't have a table saw until about ten years later. I "tuned" the RAS 5-6 years ago to use strictly for crosscuts and it is dead on. If I have a crosscut beyond the capacity of the RAS, I use the table saw if the board isn't "too" long and a circular saw and guide for anything else. I recently bought the 12" Milwaukee SCMS for crown molding but I still use my previous methods for what I've stated.
Max
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Grab the $85 model 1400 - quick! The other two were cheapened by Black and Decker - the arms are less rigid. The 1400 will hold its precise settings for years, regardless of how often you change angles. Pick up "How to Master the Radial Arm Saw" by Wally Kunkel at mrsawdust.com for details on replacing that chewed up (original) table, as well as safe methods for all the cuts you can make with a RAS.
A miter saw will have a slightly smaller footprint and will weigh less, but for a home shop is less versatile. I have both. I only use the miter saw for work away from the shop, and then only if it is too much trouble to take the work back to the shop.
IF anyone still made a RAS the equal in size and quality as the 1400, it would easily cost in excess of $2000.
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From my experiance, get the miter saw, it will get more use than a RAS considering you already have a table saw. I have a RAS and it gets used to collect and store stuff I don't know what to do with! The only time I use it is when I can not come up with an easy way to do some cuts that make a RAS shine, in other words, not very often! I think it has been a couple years since I used the RAS, but I use the miter saw quite often' Greg
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